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Okun in 1982
Alexander "Sasha" Okun
May 12, 1949
|Education||Stieglitz State Art and Industry Academy (MA)|
|Known for||Painting, drawing, sculpture|
Alexander "Sasha" Okun (born May 12, 1949) is an Israeli artist, author and educator. He is best known for his work in the medium of painting and has been called the Hanoch Levin of Israeli art. Okun's art is characterised for its reference to classical baroque traditions, which he identifies as tragic comedy in the tragicomic absurd perspective. He is a senior lecturer at Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem, where he has taught for more than 30 years.
Okun was born in 1949 in Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad), USSR. From 1961 to 1964, he began painting in the studio Solomon Levin at the Palace of Pioneers. Okun studied at Art School 190 from 1964 to 1966. Okun later studied at Stieglitz State Art and Industry Academy, where he graduated with Master of Arts in 1971. He taught drawing at the Art School Number 2 and in the House of Pioneers in Leningrad from 1972 to 1976.
During this time, Okun was also a member of the "Alef" section of the underground art movement. He exhibited at the first exhibition of non-conformist art in the "Gaza" Palace of Culture. Okun also exhibited at the "Nievsky" Palace of Culture in Leningrad, as well as in the Museums of Contemporary Art in Erevan (Armenia) and museums and galleries in the United States. He immigrated to Israel in 1979.
"The superb painterly qualities of the paintings link Okun to the European post-Renaissance tradition. Okun’s paintings neither reflect nor imitate. They walk a fine line between caricature and the grotesque, but do not stoop to crudity. His works have been rightly compared to frescoes in terms of the sensation they create. We can think of Giulio Romano’s Hall of the Giants in the Palazzo del Te, Mantua, from the 16th century, or some of the figures in the San Antonio della Florida in Madrid by Goya (1799), both wall paintings full of fantasy and severity." Okun has been the illustrator of many books of I. Guberman, B. Kamyanov and S. Schwartzband.
Beginning in 1986, Okun taught drawing at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem, where he is senior lecturer at this time. From 1988 to 2001, he taught drawing and painting at Emunah College in Jerusalem. By the late 1980s, Okun collaborated with Igor Guberman to broadcast "Eight and a Half" on Israel Radio. He also worked with Guberman to create the Israeli television programme "On Three", which was released in 2003.
Okun translated Elie Wiesel's Souls on Fire into Russian. The book was first published underground in 1979 and has been published three times. He published his book The Book of Tasty and Healthy Life, which was co-authored by Guberman in 2002. He was also published Culinary Midrash (2000), Placebo (2007), Kamov and Kaminka (2015) and the Guide to the Country of the Elders of Zion (2009), which was co-authored by Guberman. Okun has also illustrated of books for Guberman, Boris Kamyanov and Sholom Schwartzbard.
Awards and recognition
Okun has been recognized internationally for this work. During the 1980s, he received the Ofer Feniger Award and scholarships from Gestetners and the International Centre for Arts Cité in Paris. He was named an Honorary Citizen of Jefferson County, Kentucky in 1989. In 2014, Okun received the Mordechai Ish Shalom prize for Achievements in Art.
Okun's works are represented in private collections in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Poland, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States, as well as in museums in Russia, Israel and Austria. The most notable venues include Stieglitz State Art and Industry Academy, the Museum of the Non-conformist Art and the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, Yad Vashem and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Albertina Museum & Art Gallery in Vienna, the Negev Museum in Be'er Sheva, the Janko Da-Da Museum in Ein Hod, the Illana Goor Museum in Jaffa, the Bar David Museum in Bar Am and the Tefen Open Museum in Galilee.
- 2016 – "Harmony and Dissonance", Gallery U & I, London
- 2014 – Winners of the Ish Shalom prize exhibited at Gallery "Agripas 12" Jerusalem
- 2013 – "Master and Disciple", together with Asya Lukin at Gallery "Nora"
- 2013 – Contemporary Israeli Art Museum, Ramat Gan
- 2011 – Gallery Bait Adom, Tel Aviv – Yafo
- 2010 – Paddington Central, London
- 2006 – Artists House, Jerusalem
- 2005 – Basis Gallery, Adassa Neurim
- 2000 – Contemporary Israeli Art Museum, Ramat Gan
- 1999 – The Open Museum, Tefen, Galilee
- 1998 – Gallery Nora, Jerusalem
- 1994 – Janko Da-Da Museum, Ein Hod
- 1994 – Museum of Fine Arts, Ein Harod
- 1992 – Israel Museum, Jerusalem
- 1988 – Jerusalem Theater
- 1987, 1989 – Horace Richter Gallery, Tel Aviv – Yafo
- 1987 – Cite des Arts, Paris
- 1981–1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 – Debel Gallery, Jerusalem
- "Sasha Okun. Observatione - Art in Process". Art in Process. 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- Schneiderman, Igor. 20 years and the life of Okun.
- Amrami, Emmanuel (2000). The Painting and the Gaze: The dialogue of mastery and Mystery.
- Sheff, Smadar (2016). Intricate Affinities: recollections of Western Tradition in Local Contemporary Art.
- "Наступающая "Гармония диссонансов" Саши Окуня". www.russiangap.com (in Russian). Retrieved 2017-07-19.